The Infrastructure of the Church Part 2
As we continue in the sermon series CHURCH 101, let’s explore the second infrastructure of the Church of God – THE MEMBERS
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2)
The MEMBER’S POSITION
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus…”
The church, Christian believers, is the assembly of God’s people. The word church (Ekklesia) in secular Greek meant an “assembly duly summoned.” Paul changed the term to represent the church. We are called out of the sinful world by the Holy Spirit to be a part of the body of Christ. Ninety percent of the time, “church” refers to the local congregation, which speaks to the importance of a local community. One cannot grow into the image of Christ outside a local church.
Believers are “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” “Sanctified” is a perfect participle (Patterson 21). The Greek perfect tense portrays a past act, the consequences of which continue on. This is our position in Christ. We are sanctified in Christ. This is a past act that is to be lived out daily. Those who have been sanctified look like, act like, and live like it!
“As Christians one of the strongest rebukes we can have when we sin is to be reminded of who our Father is. And reminding ourselves of whose we are should be one of our strongest deterrents to sin. Remembering our position can compel us to improve our practice.” (MacArthur 301-303)
The MEMBER’S PRACTICE
“called to be saints” (verse 2)
Our practice is based upon our position. Believers are to live out who we ARE in Christ, not how or whom we are trying to be. We are saints or holy ones – God’s called out distinctive people. We are to discipline our bodies to live out who we are in Christ—saints and holy ones.
“Christian discipleship involves striving to become that which in terms of status God has already given. Practical holiness entails being transformed in Christ-likeness and goodness day by day” (Thiselton 31)
We are God’s called out and set apart saints by and for Him. Therefore, we are to reflect God’s character in our daily lives. Not to be saved or to please God. We do so because we are saved and long to live and look like whose we are!
“A little boy was accustomed to attending a church which had beautiful stained-glass windows. He saw that the windows contained pictures: “St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, St. Paul,” and others. One day he was asked, “What is a saint?” He replied, “A saint is a person the light shines through.” (Barnhouse 203)
“Does God’s light shine through you? Christ commands, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven'” (ibid 203).
The MEMBER’S PARTNERSHIP
“…with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours…” (verse 2)
The Corinthians had the habit of thinking they were an island all to themselves. They could live and set their rules however they wanted. In truth, no church is isolated from other Christian communities. Community tradition, doctrine, and practice are all very important. Paul wanted them to know they were a part of the entire body of Christ.
Notice: “Call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (verse 2). This is the earliest confession of faith—Jesus is Lord. Lord was OT reference to YHWH. Here Paul declares Jesus the same as Father God. There are those who do not believe in the Trinity. However, this verse and many others prove a great problem to their beliefs. Regardless of some non-essential differences, we are in a partnership with all true believers.
We must realize our POSITION and PRACTICE have an effect on the universal church of Christ!
The MEMBER’S PRIZE
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 3).
The gift of God’s grace.
Grace always precedes peace. Grace is God’s free, unmerited, sovereign gift. It is God’s “undeserved, gracious acts whereby He has chosen to provide existence, with all its benefits, and access to God, with all its blessings to those who are the objects of His purpose”—His sanctified saints! (Patterson 23)
The gift of peace
Our definition of peace is no problems, worries, sickness, or struggles. Peace is not a harmonious state or relegated to heaven (Patterson 23). “Peace is the confidence of God’s favor, even in the midst of conflict” (Ibid 23). It is based upon a harmonious state with God. Not a subjective feeling of inner tranquility (Thiselton 33). This peace can only come from Christ and is only given to believers (MacArthur 313).
The gift of God Himself
Grace and peace are the outflow of God’s presences. Paul wants the Corinthians to know God is the ultimate gift. They were too caught up in spiritual gifts. They were bragging about tongues and teaching. They thought they were special because of their gifts. Gifts, by the way, were given freely, not earned because someone is a special Christian. Believers should be focusing on the presence of God in their lives. He has given Himself to us bountifully. “Grace is [God’s] favor [upon believers], and peace is one of its fruits” (MacArthur 308).
Paul begins the letter to the Corinthians by setting out the infrastructure of the church of God. There are MINISTERS and MEMBERS. Each have their specific part to play. Ephesians 4 says that ministers are to equip the members for the work of ministry. That is exactly why Paul was writing to the Corinthians. They were focusing on how important they were as individuals. Paul reminded them of the importance of the body of Christ. It is God’s church and His called-out saints!
Points to Ponder
- We are to follow God’s plans for His Church.
- Ministers are to lead, but they are not the heart of the church.
- Members are to follow and serve, but they are one body.
- Regardless of whether gifts are seen by all or behind the scenes, all are gifts.
- No one gets to brag because of their gifts.
- We ARE sanctified—past act of God.
- We are to live out who we already are in Christ.
- God is our prize!
- Our focus and prayers for other things must be secondary to desiring Him.
Barnhouse, Donald Grey. Timeless Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.
MacArthur, John. 1 Corinthians. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1984.
Patterson, Paige. An Exposition of First Corinthians: The Troubled Triumphant Church 2nd ed. Fort Worth: Seminary Hill Press, 2011.
Thiselton, Anthony. First Corinthians: A Shorter Exegetical and Pastoral Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006.